Elena’s answers to some of viewers' love questions (excerpts from Elena's TV program: "Love & Relationships with Elena."
Find yourself (What do you bring to the table).
"My friends tell me that I am too picky but I can’t help it. I want a guy around 30 years old that wears designer suits, drives at the least a Mercedes, and owns his own house. I want to marry a handsome rich guy. I want to live a very comfortable life style. Where can I meet such a guy?"
"There is nothing wrong with having high standards, however I have to wonder if your standards aren't a tad bit superficial. First, what are you bringing to the table? A rich guy is not likely to marry a woman that is not his equal. And too, if you did manage to marry a rich guy and you are not his equal, you are setting up an inequality in the relationship. This means trouble in the long run.
It is interesting that you never mentioned anything about the man’s character. I urge you to investigate your priorities. Yes, you may nab a rich guy who beats you and never shares his money with you. I am not saying that he will be someone who behaves in this mannerbecause he is rich. I am making the case for the importance of finding a man of character and rethinking your position.
I’ve found that many women that are fearful and/or lazy about creating a life for themselves often feel the need to latch on to a rich man.
My advice is to focus time and attention into making a good life for yourself without any man in your life and when you have successfully completed the task see if you still feel you must marry rich as opposed to finding a good man with whom you can share your heart and life."
Finding that special someone
"I am 14 years old and I am desperate to have a boyfriend. All of my friends have one and I feel left out. Can you help me?"
"It is hard feeling like you are being left out of the loop. However, I have a suspicion that you are not the only one of your friends that doesn’t have a boyfriend yet. You may not know this, or maybe you do, but boyfriends can take up a lot of time. So use your time, without a boyfriend to develop your own skills and interests. This will make both you and your life more fun and interesting.
It will also help you to build your self-esteem, which will help you attract a higher quality boy into your life when the time comes. In some parts of the world, girls are married at 14, in your case; you can take your time and choose wisely. Enjoy your freedom and take time to get you know yourself!"
Dating in 20's
"My boyfriend wants me to move in with him and I am not sure what to do. I love him but I’m not sure that he is the one."
"It makes me laugh (no offense intended toward you) whenever a person says I don’t know what to do and only moments later state their own answer. The truth is really that the person (you, in this case) with the concern only wants confirmation. You say your boyfriend wants you to move in and you are not sure if he is the one? Gosh, if you are not sure if he is the one, why would you move in with him? It will only solidify what you already know on some level. If you are not sure if he is the one then you have the option of continuing to date him elusively until you are surer of the relationship. You may find that while you love him you are at a place in your life where you are not ready to be in a committed relationship.
You are wise to take your time before jumping into this situation."
Dating in 30’s
"I have been dating my boyfriend Steve for 5 years and I am not getting any younger and want to have children. Steve seems very content to go on just as we have but I want to get married. What should I do?"
"I have a theory that if a guy doesn’t ask and/or show interest in marrying you by the first year of dating, it is not going to happen . I have seen this time and again but it doesn’t mean it is true in all situations. You did not mention if you were living with him or not. If you are living with him, he has no real incentive to marry you because you are already probably providing him with typical wife responsibilities. I get the impression that you have talked to him about your feelings? If not, perhaps, you might mention to Steve that you want to have children in the near future and see where this takes the conversation. If he becomes very defensive, don’t fight with him. You have your answer. But if you want to marry and have children, you will have to look elsewhere. If you are living with him, move out and move on, as painful as that may be for you. It is better to make a stand for yourself now than wait another five years for him to come around, only to find out that he is still not ready. I do not advise you to fight with him about it, demand, cry, beg, trick, threaten or ask for his hand. You only want to have a marriage and children with a man that loves and wants you. Any other foundation for marriage and family will not withstand the trials and tribulations of marriage."
Dating in 40’s
"I am the single Mom of two boys ages 12 and 16 and find that dating is very hard. I would like very much to be in love and possibly remarry. Where can I go to meet a wonderful man?"
"I think you can meet nice guys almost anywhere. Notice, I said almost anywhere? Most external factors, like where you meet a nice guy, and /or your having children, are over shadowed by your state of mind. It seems to me the best conditions in which to meet a terrific guy are when you are feeling great about yourself, not coming from a place of desperation or fear. I think you need to explore social activities that bring you joy. As an example, a women recently wrote to me about how she meet the love of her life when she was not actively looking, when she joined a country line class that met weekly. She had a blast country dancing as well as meeting a man that would become her future husband. My advice is to put the focus on fun rather than "man-hunting". Take the pressure of yourself and enjoy life! You are more likely to meet a nice guy with this attitude and state of mind than pining over finding Mr. Right and living happily ever after. Have fun now!"
Dating in 50’s
"I am a 53 year old woman dating a 30 year old man. I’ve never met a kinder, sweeter man in my life. We share so many interests. We have been talking about marriage but my family and friends have not been supportive at all. In fact, my 27 year old daughter threatened not to come to our marriage. We have such a special love and bond. How should I handle it?"
"On the surface I am inclined to say that love comes in all shapes, colors, sizes and ages and it is very precious and must be cherished and savored. Go for it! However, you did not tell me what your daughter’s and/or your family's and friends' objections are other than the age difference. You allude to the fact that you think the age difference is the issue but is that really their problem with your boyfriend? I think you need to sit down with your family and friends and hear what they have to say about the situation. No matter what age, when a person is in love or the potential of love, it can distort their vision, so it is helpful to hear other people’s (who preferably have your best interest at heart) view. You have an emotionally vested interest in the outcome and cannot be as objective about your honey."
Dating in 60’s
"I am a widowed man. After being married 32 years to a wonderful gal I find myself in the position of dating again. All the rules of dating have changed and I don’t know what is appropriate. What do you suggest?"
"The rule that always applies is to be yourself. Women enjoy spending time with a man who is sincere and doesn’t try to be someone he is not. If you are planning on dating women your own age, they may share the same concerns about dating that you have at this point. I think it is best to start meeting people in groups before you venture out on your own. After you find a person you feel some comfort and attraction to, ask her to go out for coffee. She may want to meet you for coffee or feel better valued when you pick her up and take her out. Ask her what her preference is in this regard. I think it is best to make the dates less formal initially. Take things slow and easy. Don’t go for marathon dates. If you are interested, gradually spend more and more time with a potential interest. Also, I don’t recommend talking a lot about your deceased wife. It may be hard for you not to compare the woman you are dating to your deceased wife, but I strongly suggest you resist that temptation. It is not fair to the person you are dating because they cannot compete with a memory .And it will hold you back from perhaps finding love again. There are a lot of very nice ladies out there just waiting to meet a nice guy like you!"
Keeping that special someone
"I am bored with my marriage of 10 years. We have gotten into such a mundane rut. How can I bring excitement back into our boring but still loving marriage?"
"Have you ever tried sky diving? Now that you have had an adrenalin rush, understand that I am only kidding…maybe. That is, a relationship that needs some excitement and stimulation frequently requires physical activity. Many couples get into the habit of going out to eat only as their shared hobby. Lifting forks together is not enough! Have you ever heard of the "100-mile lifting-your-forks" race? Really! Perhaps you and your husband could start taking classes at the gym together and/or workout for a marathon and/or join a hiking club. Any mutually interesting physical activity will start the home fires burning and you’ll have fun in the process."
"My boyfriend and I have been talking about living together and later maybe getting married. I really want to get married and am afraid if I don’t move in with my boyfriend he won’t make the commitment that I want him to make. He says living together will tell us if we are compatible."
"If you want your boyfriend to marry you don’t move in with him. There is too much ambiguity in this situation. He says maybe he will marry you. He wants to try you out first! Gosh, doesn’t that clue you in just a bit? Research suggests that couples that live together prior to marriage have less of a chance of having a successful marriage. So that blows his theory all to..... well you know the rest. I heard a sad tale not long ago from a woman in a similar predicament to yours, and she took the bait. She single-handedly transformed her boyfriend’s typical bachelor pad pig-sty into a gorgeous place in which she proudly entertained his business associates .She helped him climb the ladder of corporate success, and all the while he made excuse after excuse about why they should hold off on marriage. About three years into the experience, he told her she would have to move out because he was getting married to someone else. This is not an unusual story and I’m sure you would not like to have this kind of fate, which is entirely possible if you move in with your boyfriend. Generally I don’t advise people to play house without having the same last name."
My fiancée accepted my proposal but asked me to take the ring back in favor of a larger stone for her engagement ring. This really hurt my feelings. Everyone I showed the ring to thought it was beautiful. I am having second thoughts about the marriage because I am concerned I will not be able to provide for her to her satisfaction. What do you think?
"At the onset I think it would have been better for you to go ring shopping with your fiancée. But since you did not do that I am more than curious about her attitude, and can understand why you would have some doubts. It seems to me that a woman in love would automatically love the ring by virtue of the man she loves picking it out for her. Her attitude may or may not mean anything. You would know better than anyone else if she was a mercenary type of woman, and if you don’t know I suggest you have a long engagement. Engagements are meant to be a pre-marriage stage in which couples can decide not to go forward to marriage. Take your time and make sure you are not taking this out of context because you have cold feet."
Marriage / Remarriage
"I have been dating a wonderful man for two years and now he wants to get married, and I don’t want to take that leap. I have been married before and it was a disaster and I was devastated when it ended. I vowed never to put myself in that kind of position again. I’m afraid if I don’t agree to marry my boyfriend I will lose him. Any suggestions?"
"Anyone that has gone through divorce knows that the pain when it ends is usually indescribable. It is beyond painful. However, your past doesn’t have to equal your present. Most people that go through traumatic experiences come back to living and bring with them knowledge and wisdom. I’d wager to say you are not that same person you were before when you were married. It sounds like you have some residual pain to work through before you can make a commitment to marry. Perhaps you can go to a therapist to help you sort this out more thoroughly. If this man you are with is half as wonderful as you say he is, let him know you are in the process of sorting this out and will need some time. You are wise not to jump into marriage. Don’t let fear compel you to go against your better sense. Work out your pain more fully, then decide if you are ready and willing to remarry."
"My husband‘s job involves us relocating every few years and I am sick of it. Should I give him an ultimatum; it’s me or his job?"
Dear Jennie Lee,
"I hate the expression "you made your bed, now you have to sleep in it", but in a sense it applies to your situation. You may have found that living this kind of lifestyle is creating a hardship on you and your marriage. I urge you to talk to your husband and see if there is a compromise of some kind that can be made. If he loves you,it is possible he will do his best to meet your request. Most people do not respond well to ultimatums. My advice is for you to find a quiet time when you can talk to your husband about what you are feeling. Don’t accuse or blame, just tell him how lonely you feel when he is gone or whatever feels appropriate to you. If he is not willing to work it out, then you can leave, stay and work it out, or stay and make your life and his horrible. The ball will be in your court!"
"My girlfriend and I live together. In many ways we get along very well but when it comes to her friends we fight. I go to college during the day and work at night. I want to create a better life. My girlfriend’s friends are lazy, won’t work, smoke pot, talk about boys and partying. I am thinking about breaking up with my girlfriend because of her friends. What should I do?"
"You leave a lot of information out. I don’t know whether or not your girlfriend behaves in the same way that her friends behave. I don’t know if the partying takes place in your home. Is your girlfriend behaving like her friends? You need to step back and ask yourself the question, 'Is she helping me toward reaching my goals or holding me back?' I have a feeling that she is not much of an asset to you from what I’ve ascertained. If this is true than you have to decide if you are willing to pick up her slack. Keep in mind, if she and her friends are partying and drugs are involved, and it’s in your house, you can be in deep trouble. My advice is to talk to your girlfriend about the problem. Give her a chance to drop her friends and move onto a better lifestyle. If she is not willing to do it, then you have to take care of yourself and drop her."
Children / step children
"I am engaged to be married and I recently found out that my fiancé had a child with another woman. They never married. I am upset with him because he has been supporting this child and the child’s mother for a little over two years and never told me. I asked him why he told me now and he said because I will be the child’s step mother. How would you handle this problem?"
"It sounds to me like your fiancé is not forthcoming; I can understand your concern about him. He not only kept the child a secret and the financial support of the child’s mother and the child, he also expects you to be the child’s new mommy. Consider this a forewarning! I urge you to reconsider any further involvement with this man."
"My in-laws constantly bring up my husband's old girlfriends and it hurts my feelings. My husband knows it hurts me but doesn’t say anything to them. What should I do?"
"Ask your husband directly to intervene on your behalf. The information you gave to me does not help determine if your in-laws are purposely trying to hurt your feelings and make you feel unwelcome, or they just are in sensitive. In either case, it is wrong and it is time to put a stop to it."
"My boyfriend is terrible in the bedroom. He is not romantic at all and just expects me to be turned on like the "Ever-Ready Bunny." He is a great guy in so many ways but I am thinking about breaking up with him."
"Sex is a very sensitive subject, particularly for men. I hope that you have not shown your boyfriend your displeasure or commented on it in a negative way. Perhaps, you can suggest to your boyfriend that you would like to spice up your sex life. Get books on exciting and interesting positions and say to your boyfriend that in order to do some of these positions, you need a little help from him and ask him to do specific things to get you ready for your new sex adventure. Also, ask him if there is anything he would like you to do for him. Make sex more playful."
"My husband is an avid football fan. During the seasons I never see him. He is a good husband in many other ways but this is driving me nuts. I complain to him about it but he doesn’t change his behavior."
"If your husband is a good husband in all the ways that are important to you, count your blessings and get off his back. It is good and healthy for couples to have and enjoy interests together and separately. I wonder if you have any hobbies or activities that you might enjoy while he is watching the game. If not, perhaps it’s time for you to look into the matter."
"My husband never gets me presents on the day of a holiday. He gets me presents afterwards. Is this strange?"
"It is strange! I wonder if anything happened to him to make him dislike holidays. Holidays are very sad for a lot of people who have lost loved ones and now their loved ones share the holidays in memory only. He may also behave that way because he is a bit childish and is rebelling to the established rule of getting presents for you. It could be that he is angry with you and is acting passive-aggressive. Mara, I think the best approach to take whenever you don’t understand something about the man you love is to ask him directly."
"My wife told me she wants us to take separate vacations this year. I don’t like the idea at all. What is she up to?"
"Before you jump to conclusions find out more information. Where does she want to go? Is it different than where you want to go? If she wants to visit her parents in Toledo and you want to go to the King Tutu exhibit (where is it now?) that’s understandable. If she wants to go to Paris and you go elsewhere, I’d have (and make) some reservations! You need much more information ."
"I am a 50 year-old woman and I am unemployed. I have not been able to get a 9-5 job and decided to focus my attention on writing. My husband said he will gladly support me while I get it together. I am very nervous about this arrangement."
"It sounds like you have a husband that loves you. Allow yourself to receive his generosity and get your writing career together."
Life style Preferences
"My wife is so sloppy. She makes messes everywhere she goes, and if I don’t pick it up it stays wherever she dropped it. I want to live in a clean and organized house and she says she is just the way she is - disorganized and sloppy."
"You could buy her a shovel for her birthday so she could shovel out the house on occasion. Seriously, your wife has allowed herself to buy into the concept that she cannot change. If her life depended on her changing, she could do it. She is not motivated to work on these destructive traits. And you probably will not be able to motivate her to change her habit. So perhaps there is another approach. Set up a part of the house that is yours and as such she must respect the way you take care of your 'slop-free-zone'. And she will have her portion of the house to do what she will with it At some point in time she may get sick of it and ask for your help either to clean and organize or help her find of way of doing it herself. I don’t suggest you help her clean up after herself, as an adult that is her job. She may decide to hire a maid."
Identity / Trust Issues
"My husband and I have been together for five years. In that time period he has played a lot of jealousy games with me. He talked and still talks about his ex-girlfriends and other women. Also, we had an agreement that we would not continue friendships with friends of the opposite gender that we had associations with, and he has been slowly sneaking them back into his life. If I react to his torment, he acts like I am a crazy woman. I have found phone messages and all sorts of things from other women and it makes me feel like he can’t be trusted. Yet in other ways he acts very loving to me. I have literally gotten sick over this problem."
"It is a childish game your husband is playing with you. It is hard to tell if he is being unfaithful to you or just enjoys getting your undivided attention. I characterize your husband’s behavior as emotionally abusive. It could be that he is the one that is so insecure and the best offense is a good defense. Build up your self-esteem and consider moving on if he continues this sadistic behavior. No man is worth getting sick over."
"My husband is a hard core smoker and I am so concerned about him. I’m also worried about our three children growing up without a father. I’ve done everything I could think of to make him stop but he won’t do it. I actually am thinking about divorcing him because of his smoking."
"I can appreciate your concern over your husband’s health. Before you end up in divorce court why not have an intervention? Perhaps you could call the American Heart Association and/or AA, and ask how to conduct an addictions intervention. The bottom line is that you can’t make him quit but you can encourage him to make the change. He makes that decision. If he decides to continue to smoke you can insist that he not smoke in the house or in your yard.
If he loves you he will abide by that. If he is just too self-involved to care about the ramifications, then you have to do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your children."
"I have been falling out of love with my husband for a long time now. We have been together for 25 years. Recently, I asked my husband for a divorce. He asked if we could just be separated for awhile to make sure that that is really what I want to do. My children are very upset and my family tells me I am a fool to let him go, but I know that I want to start a new, single life. I only agreed to the separation because I did not want to hurt my husband’s feelings. Should I continue this folly to save everyone’s feelings?"
"You may have known for a long time that your marriage was over but your husband and children obviously didn’t know. You will have given all concerned the opportune transition time by going through the perfunctory separation time, and in the end you will know that you handled this to the best of your ability. It is not just the couple that break up, it is the entire family system that has to make serious adjustments."
"My divorce became final one week ago and I am wondering when it is appropriate to start dating again?"
"I think each person is different when it comes time to start dating again. I think it is more important to give yourself time to recover from the trauma of divorce. It is a good idea to get into some kind of therapy to work through your issues rather than passing them onto relationship after relationship. And too, many people seek to fill that empty place in their heart, and in their bed, after a divorce, and you must be careful that desperation and need is not your motive. Go through the healing process and get yourself on track before you start dating. If you don’t do that it is possible you could end up with someone worse than who you just divorced."
"I recently found out that my son is gay. I don’t know what to do. I love him so much and I just don’t agree with the lifestyle. Can he be changed?"
"Factions from politics, biology, religion, psychology, and public opinion all have definite views about the issue of homosexuality. They could all get together and wave their theories and opinions and no one would be moved. It is a stalemate. The main issue in your situation as I see it is that you love your son. My suggestion is to continue to love your son and don’t expect him to change his orientation."
"My boyfriend is Catholic and I am Jewish. We have been talking about marriage and having children. We decided that if we have children they will be introduced to both religions. His parents and my parents are very upset by our decision. They say it will never work, are they right?"
"I like the idea of 'never say never' to much of anything in life! However, I think your children, your future children that is, may get caught in the crossfire. Some of the foundational stuff in Christianity and Judaism is similar, but there are many differences. It is virtually impossible to be Jewish and Christian at the same time. I think you and your possible finance would be wiser to pick a religion and stick to it. And when the children are old enough they can make an educated decision about what they believe. You did not say whether you and your possible finance are active in your perspective faith? You and your possible finance are wise to address these difficult issues before marrying and having the issue confront you at that time."
"I have been married to Tom for 7 years. When we first met he was sweet and romantic. After the first year of marriage he changed dramatically. He started slapping me and it has gotten progressively worse. He now punches me, spits on me, screams, and says threatening things to me. I know he loves me and doesn’t mean to do those things to me. He always apologizes and for awhile things get better and then he starts again. In fact, it gets even worse each time .How can I get him to be more loving?"
"The only way you can get him to be more loving is to call the police the next time he attacks you and they put him in jail with a burly roommate named Bubba that wants to cuddle with him. If he is doing these terrible things to you he doesn’t love you. In fact, he hates you and means to destroy you. It is important that you understand that a man in love doesn't hurt you out of love for you. Understand your life is on the line, and he may kill you in one or more ways if you stay. If he doesn’t kill you physically he will kill your spirit .You will wish that you were dead. Life doesn’t have to be so crazy and cruel. Please call a local domestic violence organization for help as soon as possible. If you decide to leave him, don’t have a discussion with him, or threaten to leave. Remember, he is not your friend, and he means you harm. He has harmed you. Save yourself and your children,if you have them."